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Local woman climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro after kidney donation, raises awareness on life after surgery

Posted at 5:46 AM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 08:23:31-04

(WXYZ) — Two years ago, a single father to three children was looking for a type O kidney.

Hundreds and maybe even thousands of people saw his sign.

Emily Polet-Monterosso wasn't the first person to call the number, but she was the first to get the okay from doctors.

"I think he had lost hope because no one in his network was a match, you know? And he was relying on a stranger to follow up," Polet-Monterosso said.

The evaluation process took about 3 months. Then, the surgery happened at Henry Ford Health and was successful.

"I found the recovery to be pretty smooth," she said. "You know when I got to that 6-week mark I was more than ready to get back to just a normal athletic training schedule as well as the regular rigors of everyday life."

Polet-Monterosso was at Ryan Standford's bedside discussing a future he thought he'd never have.

"It's amazing, it's amazing," Polet-Monterosso said.

And Polet-Monterosso was in the healthiest physical state she's ever been in.

"This is because their healthcare system. They are being followed more closely and donation kind of gives them the motive to be healthy and stay healthy for the rest of their life," Dr. Prashar said, a Henry Ford Physician, said.

Polet-Monterosso joined an online support group called Kidney Donor Athletes. They wanted to prove that life is normal after donation and that you can continue to push your physical limits.

That mission took them all the way to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain above sea level in the world.

"It was amazing undertaking this endeavor with this particular group of people. Just a bunch of strangers all showing up in Tanzania doing the most vulnerable intimate thing, you know? Sleeping on the side of the mountain together," Polet-Monterosso said.

The climb took 7 days and despite the incredible journey, the killer views, and the group bonding, Polet-Monterosso says it still didn't top her donation experience.

"I've climbed up Mount Kilimanjaro, but kidney donation was still better for my life," she said. "It was just the best thing I've ever done."